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Nowadays, architectural assembly and design is mainly done on computers, so powerful laptops and desktops are indispensable in the field of architecture. These devices must be powerful enough to handle runs in 3DS Max, views of large drawings and models in various CAD programs, etc.
And while desktops may be the best option, laptops provide some of the mobility and unlimited power that people on the go, whether they’re architecture students or architects in the field, need to work efficiently and get the job done.
There is no need to invest in the most powerful and expensive workstation. While it’s fun to work and play with them, architects can certainly work with a slightly cheaper but equally powerful architectural laptop.
Recommended hardware for laptops of architecture
There are many amazing options when it comes to the best laptops for architects. We’re not even talking about $3,000 laptops here, but rather more affordable, well-designed and fairly portable packages that offer the power to get the job done.
So it’s pretty easy to find the right laptop within your budget, as long as you don’t make these common mistakes:
- Not enough RAM available
- Wrong graphics card for your model.
- Selection of resolution too high or too low.
We’ll talk about this later, but for now let’s talk about what to look for in an architectural notebook:
- Display: at least 15 Full HD, or even 17 if you are mainly in the same location/site, in which case weight is not an issue. In terms of resolution, 4K can be a big help when it comes to getting panoramic images of interfaces and tools.
- CPU: +4GHz for drawing or design, quad-core for rendering, unless you are using cloud or home rendering. For rendering on a laptop, 6 to 8 cores are preferred.
- GPU : The 1050/1050Ti is more than adequate for students, while the 1060GTX would be more useful for a professional architect working on large projects. If you are working with some Revit/ 3DS Max plug-ins, you may need Quadro/FirePro.
- RAM: 8 GB RAM for architecture students or 16-32 GB RAM for architects
- Storage : 256GB SSD for architecture students or 512GB to 256GB + 1TB hard drives for certified architects. The best combination is an NVMe x2 PCIe SSD, since you can use one for Arc software and one for Windows.
- Weight: When moving from place to place (or classroom to classroom), try to find laptops that weigh about 3 pounds, but keep in mind that fast processors and dedicated GPUs increase the weight of the laptop.
Top 10 architectural notebooks
Here’s a rundown of the best laptops for architects in 2021. All of these laptops meet (or exceed) the recommended configurations we listed above, as well as the excellent specs and value for money.
Whatever your budget, you’ll find a variety of options. Whether you are a student or a graduate architect, you will be able to find the laptop that meets your needs. Let’s go!
Our first choice is the Asus VivoBook, one of the most affordable laptops you can find that can handle the demands of architecture software. It offers more than enough power for everyday design and architectural tasks, all for around $500. This makes it the best laptop for both architecture students and architects starting their careers.
At first glance, the features may seem a bit modest, but you can be sure that this laptop will meet your needs with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. It is essentially a lightweight mobile machine.
And, it’s great too, thanks to all the other options included, like the HD camera, fingerprint sensor, backlit keyboard, and four color options. These are things you don’t often find on cheaper models, so it’s really nice to have them.
- 15.6 Full HD display
- AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Processor
- AMD Radeon Vega 3 GPU
- 12GB DDR4 FRAME, 256GB SSD
- Battery life 37Wh
Apple MacBook Pro
Of course, if you want something shinier, more glamorous and trendier, there’s nothing better than the Apple MacBook Pro, which is very popular with architects these days. It’s actually one of the best laptops for animation. Make sure the 16 current models or 15 earlier versions can do more than the basic version of AutoCAD and Sketch.
Of course, a Mac may not be the best tool for Revit because it’s not really compatible with MacOS, but you can still use software and extensions like VMware Fusion to run Windows on Mac laptops and desktops.
There’s so much in this laptop too. First, you can get it in any high-speed processor. RAM can also be configured and storage capacity can range from 512GB to 1TB. The graphics card options are also powerful.
- 16-inch retina display
- Intel Core i7-Core i9 CPU
- Graphics processor Radeon Pro 5300M/5500M
- 16-64 GB DDR4 RAM, 512 GB-2TB PCIe SSD
- 10 hours battery life
Acer Aspire E 15
The Acer Aspire E 15 may not be the best looking model, as it’s a heavy, bulky and ugly plastic laptop, but it has a chrome finish and a matte look, so it’s not too bad. Internal operation is also important and the laptop does not disappoint in this regard.
You see, it has a 1080p screen that has just the right amount of color and brightness. The brightness is also excellent, so you won’t strain your eyes even when working on a project for hours.
Bottom line: It’s a high-performance laptop that can easily (and properly) run anything you throw at it. You’ll just have to be a little patient, as high-intensity applications naturally require more, and you may have to compromise on graphics quality, but overall it’s definitely a steal for your money.
- 15.6 LED display
- Intel Core i7-8550U CPU
- NVIDIA GeForce MX150 Graphics Processor
- 8 GB RAM, 256 GB storage
- 8 hours battery life
Dell 15.6 Gaming Laptop Computer
Another relatively affordable option that costs less than a thousand dollars but doesn’t compromise on performance is the 15.6-inch Dell gaming laptop, which is equipped with a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with a 6-megabyte cache and 3.6 GHz turbo speed.
What makes it particularly attractive, especially for architecture students, is that it comes with a powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics card with 4GB of GDDR5 vRAM, which is so hard to find in a notebook at this price point. It is a super-powerful graphics processor that can easily handle graphics-intensive software, which is a prerequisite for architecture projects.
It also has eight gigabytes of RAM, making it ideal for running extensive software and multitasking. In addition, the 256-Gigabyte SSD provides faster data transfer speeds while reducing hard drive failures, a common problem with mechanical hard drives.
- 15.6 Full HD LED Display
- Intel Core i5-6300HQ Processor
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M GPUs
- 8GB DDR3L FRAME, 256GB SSD
- 4.5 hours battery life
Take a look at other Dell laptop models:
Microsoft Surface 3 Laptop
Did you know that the Microsoft Surface 3 laptop is also an excellent choice for students and architecture professionals? This is an amazing detachable laptop that comes in several options, with the most advanced model definitely being our first choice.
Looking at the internal components, the first thing you notice is the Intel Core i7 processor, a graphically optimized chipset that is powerful enough to support decent 3D modeling. It also has a 3.9 GHz turbo clock, as well as four cores and eight threads, making it super reliable and perfect for rendering.
There is also the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, a high-end graphics card that is technically suited for the consumer market, but is capable of I-Ray and V-Ray rendering. You even get help with 3D wireframe modeling and rendering viewports, which is a great deal.
- 15.6-inch PixelSense display
- Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPUs
- 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD
- 17.5 hours battery life
Microsoft Surface Book 2
You can also consider Microsoft Surface Book 2, which is sort of an alternative to MacBook Pro for Windows. That’s because it has high performance and a high-quality design, all in a slim and compact profile.
No wonder it’s also popular with architects and architecture students. However, you should realize that this level is totally different from the Surface Pro 4, as it uses an eighth-generation Intel Core i7 processor and a dedicated graphics card, which Surface Pro models don’t actually have.
This means that this laptop offers configurable amounts of memory and storage, so you can go from eight to 32 gigabytes of memory and 512 to two terabytes of storage. Our advice? If you have a limited budget, aim higher now, as it will be difficult to upgrade later.
- 13.5 or 15 PixelSense display
- Intel i7 quad-core processor
- NVIDIA GTX 1650-1660Ti Graphics Processor
- 16-32GB RAM, 256GB-2TB NVMe PCIe SSD
- 7 hours battery life
MSI GF63 Thin 9RCX -615
The best computer for architecture, as some say, the MSI GF63 is slim, mainly because it is too powerful for anything not so demanding in terms of architecture and design software. Actually, it’s a bit too much for a student, but it’s a definite advantage for professionals. Either way, it’s probably prohibitively expensive for an architecture student.
We like that it has an ultra-fast processor with four cores instead of two, which greatly reduces rendering time. Not to mention that the extra clock speed is definitely useful if you want to run faster simulations.
The graphics card isn’t best-in-class, but it’s a decent mid-range option with four gigabytes of vRAM, making it perfect for architecture courses and fieldwork. The Full HD IPS screen is also a definite advantage, especially since it’s pleasant to look at thanks to its matte surface.
- 15 Full HD IPS Display
- Intel Core i5-9300H CPU
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050TI GPUs
- 8GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
- 4 to 6 hours battery life
Dell G5 Laptop gaming computer 15
Anyone looking for a powerful laptop will one day consider, and for good reason, getting a gaming laptop. Take the Dell G5 15, for example. It features a 15.6-inch IPS screen with anti-reflective coating, 1920 x 1080 resolution, and of course, lots of ringing and whistling.
Running multiple applications is no problem thanks to the quad-core Intel i7 processor and 16 gigabytes of RAM, which can be upgraded to 32 GB if desired. This makes your work much smoother and you don’t have to worry about a big delay when using high-end video rendering tools and CAD software.
Apart from this, the graphics card is also a very good addition as it helps a lot in terms of performance and proper functioning. In fact, it can easily support a decent frame rate of 50 frames per second in most games.
- 15.6 LED display
- Intel Core i7-8750H CPU
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU
- 16GB DRUM, 126GB SSD + 1TB HDD
- 6 hours battery life
Omen by HP 2019 Gaming Laptop
Another gaming notebook is the HP Omen, which actually offers a much brighter and more colorful display than the Dell G5 15, covering 111% of the sRGB color space. The display itself is quite impressive with an HD 1080p resolution and a refresh rate of 144 Hz.
Sure, it’s not ideal because of the brightness, but the Bang&Olufsen audio system more than makes up for the difference with its smooth and impressive sound.
Let’s move on to the main issues. The CPU itself isn’t the most powerful, but 12 gigabytes of RAM and a GPU with 4 gigabytes of vRAM more than make up the difference. You’ll have no problem running advanced software; everything looks like a walk in the park, whether it’s modern games, CAD software, or other software.
- 15.6 LED display
- Intel Core i5-8300H CPU
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics processor
- DRUM 12GB, 1TB HDD
- 4 hours battery life
Acer Nitro 5 Game Book
Finally, there is the Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop. It is a high-end notebook that sells very well and is relatively inexpensive, as it is equipped with a dedicated mid-range GPU that can be converted to a high-end GPU for most university architecture courses.
It does not offer the performance level of a workstation, but it is certainly more than adequate for most design and simulation projects. Moreover, this notebook offers the high performance of the latest generation processor with higher clock speeds, which means faster display.
The icing on the cake is a 256-Gigabyte NVMe PCIe SSD, which is now the standard for fast and seamless data storage. Don’t forget that this notebook has all the other high-end features, such as DDR4 memory, full HD display, IPS panel and much more.
- 15 Full HD IPS Display
- Intel Core i5 9300H CPU
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Graphics Processor
- 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB PCIe NVMe
- 6 hours battery life
Check out the Acer Nitro 5 deals on Amazon.
Architectural procurement advice
Not sure what to look for when it comes to laptops for architecture students and professional architects? Don’t worry about it. We know it can be a little difficult, so we’re here to help. Here’s a list of the most important things to consider before buying:
One of the first things to understand is that depending on the concentration or specialization you choose, such as interior design or landscape architecture, you will find that there are subtle differences in the type of software you will use.
The hardware requirements for the laptop are essentially the same, but there are some factors to consider, such as B. the operating system, since some applications can only run on Windows and others only on the Mac.
Rhino and Revit, for example, are made for Windows machines. Although they can work on Mac laptops and desktops, you must first double boot into Windows, which requires a reboot on the Mac laptop. One thing you can do is use things like Parallels Desktop 16 to run Windows on macOS devices.
Other common software for architecture : Rhinoceros 3D + Grasshopper for modeling, CAD for 2D drawing, Sketchup for straight models, Autodesk Maya for models, Adobe After Effects for editing media and Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop for visualization and rendering.
Speaking of operating systems, you really need to know what your options are, especially since only one operating system can be used from a laptop and it can be a bit annoying to boot your installation twice.
The fact is that Windows is still the most popular operating system, even though it no longer dominates the operating system market in computing today. There are many options for Windows laptops that work great, from simple web browsing to high-end gaming and everything in between.
For example, Windows 10 adopts most aspects of smartphone controls and design and works well with mouse and keyboard.
Formerly known as OS X, macOS (or Macintosh, if you prefer) is Apple’s proprietary platform/operating system. Apparently exclusive to Apple devices, it has gained popularity and loyalty from its users.
All in all, macOS is an excellent operating system for computing tasks and is particularly suited to video and photography.
You can also find many Chromebook laptops in the market that use Chrome OS. These types of laptops are basic devices with minimal functionality, hence their low price. They are perfect for simple computer tasks, light applications and web browsing.
However, they are not at all suitable for most architecture programs, unless you are a student accessing the software remotely in your department’s computer lab, but even then the experience will not be as easy.
Other operating systems
There are many open source operating systems, such as B. Linux. These are often powerful operating system options that you will find very useful, especially if you have good computer skills.
The problem is that they are not installed on most modern laptops on the market. This means you will have to install it yourself on your laptop after purchase (or get help from a professional).
Since you need to run modeling software on your laptop, it’s important to make sure it doesn’t drag or crash, especially when selecting and applying editing and design tools. This means that a powerful processor should be selected to ensure smooth operation.
At the very least, try to get a quad-core processor or a more powerful one with the highest possible clock speed, especially if you want to speed up playback.
A high-quality GPU with sufficient graphics memory is important when working with an application or program where fine details are important. First and foremost, smoothing must be done.
This is even more important for editing and rendering 3D models, which require at least 2 GB of vRAM. This means that architecture students agree with anything outside of NVIDIA’s 960M range.
And if you’re looking for a portable workstation, the AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quadro series are perfect for creating digital content, CGI and CAD with minimal error margins with floating point precision and advanced error correction features.
Keep in mind that any architecture programs you install on your laptop will consume memory, especially if you are running multiple applications at once. It is therefore important to start with at least 8 GB of RAM, and even better with 16 GB to really avoid making mistakes.
3D drawings and architectural models require a lot of storage space. So you need at least a 1TB hard drive to store all the files, or you can even buy an external hard drive for extra storage. That said, hard drives are problematic because they are limited and subject to physical damage, so if you can find a better solution, go ahead.
Solid State Drive
We’re talking about SSDs, which are more reliable and much faster than hard drives. These files and software downloads are much faster and provide a large storage capacity for work in progress and important libraries. SSDs are quite expensive though, so a hybrid of HDD and SSD would be a better option. Store unwanted files on the hard drive and important stuff on the SSD.
A large field of view is beneficial when working with 3D models and maps or when designing the interior of a building, because more real estate on the screen means you can see more, which means less scrolling and zooming in and out.
So choose a 15 or 17 inch screen. It doesn’t matter if you have a high-end gaming laptop or an expensive MacBook – if you can’t see anything on the screen, the laptop is useless for your needs.
However, a compromise is the purchase of, for example, an external monitor. B. of the ASUS VE248Q 24″ Full HD, and switching to a multi-display configuration. Note that this only works if you have an external GPU and a dedicated workspace. You will also need a VicTsing HDMI connector for VGA with audio adapter.
Weight and battery life
If you’re buying a laptop instead of the best computers for students and architecture professionals, it’s because you want mobility and power on the go, which you can get by being lightweight and having a long battery life.
There are a number of suitable options that also offer the necessary performance, but they are quite difficult to find. You need to balance performance and portability, because powerful processors and GPUs not only add weight to your laptop, but also consume your battery faster.
If you are going to be working primarily in a particular office, you should definitely choose the most powerful laptop you can find. However, if you need to be constantly on the go, you’ll have to trade off some of the specifications for weight and battery life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q : What is a good screen resolution for a laptop?
A : All you need to understand is that the laptops available offer average screen resolution with grainy screens that make it difficult to read websites optimized for a full HD screen. You should therefore invest in a high-quality Full HD screen with a resolution of at least 1920 x 1080. Factors such as brightness and color brilliance are also taken into account.
Q : How long do I need the batteries for?
A : Generally, your laptop should last all day, which means eight hours on a single bill. So you shouldn’t be at the mercy of the few outlets in your area, especially if you work or study outside.
You will find many laptops that offer good battery life, but be aware that the more demanding the programs you run, the faster the battery will discharge.
Q : Are touchscreen laptops necessary?
A : The touch screen is an interesting feature, but not a necessity. Benefits include working on your projects by hand, signing electronic documents with your finger or a pen, and using your laptop as a tablet.
However, there are also some drawbacks, such as. B. the extra cost and all those pesky fingerprints, so it’s really up to you to decide if you want a touchscreen laptop or not.
Q : Should I buy a gaming laptop?
A : Gaming laptops are a popular choice for hard work. You will see many gaming laptops on review sites, such as. B. for laptops, and there are actually quite a few on our list.
However, a gaming laptop may not be necessary (or even appropriate) if you don’t need all the high-end specs and features, if you’re on a tight budget, or if you’ve found that a gaming laptop isn’t quite the most powerful option.
Ultimately, you should base your decision on what you really need from your laptop and buy a model that offers the right specifications. And if it’s really a gaming laptop you want and need, go ahead. You can even improve your gaming experience by buying accessories like the Logitech G700 rechargeable gaming mouse, as touchpads can be quite difficult to use.
We could go on, but the truth is that the best laptop for architecture is the one that perfectly fits your needs and requirements when it comes to running various architecture programs and doing all other types of work on a laptop. So make sure you buy a laptop that fits your needs, requirements and budget.
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